ByHeather Snowden, writer at Creators.co
Lover of bad puns, nostalgic feels and all things Winona.
Heather Snowden

Those of you who've devoured Neil Gaiman's fantastical novel will have been well prepared for what was coming — pun intended — in the pilot episode this past Sunday. In fact, I think it's fair to say that this particular scene was perhaps the most anticipated of the entire series. In it, a woman devours a man whole via her vagina. It's known as the "Orgasm of Death," and it was completely insane.

Considering the scene happens within the first chapter (well, the "Somewhere in America" side narrative, if you want to get technical) of Gaiman's novel, the fact it was placed in the pilot episode wasn't really a total surprise. However, it was an exceptionally bold move to wham something so graphic — and one of the novel's most memorable excerpts — in the first installment of the show adaptation.

We've covered a complete breakdown of the written scene here, which will satisfy those looking for a comprehensive breakdown of what inspired such a groundbreaking sex scene. However, if you just want clarity on WTF you just plonked your eyeballs upon, allow me to explain:

In the book, one of the Old Gods, a goddess by the name of Bilquis a.k.a. the Queen of Sheba, is working in LA as a prostitute; in the TV series, she's still in LA, but instead she's on a date with a dad-like fellow she met on a dating app. She's a gorgeous, stylish woman, and he is punching way above his weight. After a few minutes, the date begins to feel a bit odd — we're taken to her bedroom, which is painted a deep crimson red, and they begin to have sex. As they fuck, she demands that he should worship her. That worship promptly takes a turn for the mind-meltingly mental, because as he does so, Bilquis engulfs his body whole and he slips into her womb-abyss. She guides the top of his head into her lady parts and then poof, ciao, catch ya later — he's never seen again.

If you were watching with an open jaw, you were not alone. The fact they even pulled off such a scene is in itself a huge achievement, and bodes incredibly well for the rest of the season. But — real talk — how in the name of all things holy do you film a scene like that? How do you make it seem as if a stodgy bloke has been sucked into the vag of a woman straddling him, and make it look real? Spoilers: it's fucking hard.

The Verge talked to the show's visual effects designer, Kevin Tod Haug, who tried to explain how they did it in a way mere mortals could understand:

“It's the only thing that we all knew what it needed to look like, and we were all scared to death that it wouldn't look like that when we were done. The idea of her growing during the process, him shrinking, the way the room would sort of help us see her, but not see it too clearly ... [They experimented a LOT] ... Some of the shots got versioned to death. One of those shots at the end was pushing 30 versions.”

By "versioned," Haug essentially means the shot was filmed multiple times from the same angle for the same cut. VFX supervisor, Jeremy Ball adds:

“When we're up over her left shoulder looking down at him as he's being absorbed, it was really the trickiest one ... I think something we didn't take into account fully on set was the amount to which her movement was going to translate to him as he's pulling forward. We thought of it as much more of a linear thing. A lot of the kind of hip movement from her is getting transferred to him in post ...

It started out being primarily practical effects that could have just been split together in 2D, so no actual CG.”

The scene was treated with visual FX afterwards, to bring all the elements of the shot together, and I think you'll all agree that it was absolutely worth the effort. They nailed it!

What did you make of Bilquis' sex scene in American Gods?

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